Elizabeth LaPensee, an Anishinaabe and Metis game developer and designer, snapped the picture and posted it to her Facebook wall.

A marketing campaign by a German company at the Gaming Developers Conference in San Francisco used a tepee and, reportedly, non-native women dressed in faux Native American attire (Photo courtesy of ICTMN).

A marketing campaign by a German company at the Gaming Developers Conference in San Francisco used a tepee and, reportedly, non-native women dressed in faux Native American attire (Photo courtesy of ICTMN).

It showed, reported Indian Country Today, two of several women hired by Glispa, a German company, to dress in faux Native American attire at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco earlier this month, standing in front of a tepee.

LaPensee’s friend, Melissa Bennett, a Umatilla, Nez Perce, Diné and Lakota writer, saw the Facebook post and emailed the company questioning the display. She received a direct response from CEO Gary Lin.

In his defiant email, which can be read at length on Bennett’s website (womanstoryteller.com), Lin, who wrote that he is Chinese-American, declared he understands “the sensitivities around race and culture fully” and that since he founded the company more than a decade ago, Bennett’s complaint is the first he has received concerning his co-opting of Native American cultures.

Lin goes on to declare that he has a bevy of Native American friends, seeing that he was born in the Midwest.

“It felt like another example of a non-Indian person telling an Indian person what should and shouldn’t be offensive about their own cultures,” Bennett wrote.

According to Simon Moya-Smith’s story at ICTMN, LaPensee hoped Lin would be understanding, but instead was “unapologetic.”

LaPensée also wondered what part of the hyper-sexualizing of Native American women falls under his definition of Native American cultural values, ICTMN reported.

- Vince Devlin

If negotiations are re-opened on a controversial proposed reserved water rights compact on the Flathead Indian Reservation, indications are the topics to be discussed would be narrowly defined.

Discussions on doing so have been held,  reports Matt Volz of the Associated Press reports.

But the dispute over who controls the water and how much is allocated to farmers, ranchers and others through the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project has intensified, and it is unclear whether a deal can be reached outside of a courtroom.

The hardening positions of those involved in the conflict were apparent Tuesday during a meeting of an interim legislative panel studying a proposed water-use agreement between irrigators and the tribes that was an appendix to the larger water rights compact.

The Flathead Joint Board of Control, which negotiated the water-use agreement with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes that accompanied the compact, disbanded after the Montana legislature rejected the compact in 2013. That created the need to revisit the agreement according to Chris Tweeten, chairman of the Montana Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission.

CSKT attorney Rhonda Swaney agreed the negotiations are needed now that the joint board of control has dissolved, but said the tribes don’t intend to reopen them fully.

“If changes are needed int he compact, they need to be agreed to by both sides,” Tweeten said. “Whatever one side might want to go forward with … can’t be dictated to the other.”

At the start of this college basketball season, Brent Cahwee wrote about 10 Native American players – well, 11, actually – for fans to keep their eyes on at ndnsports.com.

Shoni and Jude Schimmel, members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, became the first Native Americans from a reservation to play in the NCAA women's basketball championship last year, for Louisville (Photo by Rhonda Levaldo/courtesy ndnsports.com).

Shoni and Jude Schimmel, members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, became the first Native Americans from a reservation to play in the NCAA women’s basketball championship last year, for Louisville (Photo by Rhonda Levaldo/courtesy ndnsports.com).

Now that March Madness is upon the nation, it’s time to remind folks that some of them are still playing. Two of the most notable are sisters Shoni and Jude Schimmel from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, who play for Louisville – a No. 3 seed in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

What hasn’t been said or written about the dynamic duo of sisters that have taken women’s college basketball and Indian country by storm. Shoni, described as a more flashy and “rez” ball style player and Jude, described as a more steady and blue collar player, helped lead the Louisville Cardinals to an appearance in the 2013 women’s national championship game.

(They made) an improbable run through the tournament by beating then-No. 1-ranked Baylor in what was has been called the women’s game of the century. The Lady Cardinals also beat Tennessee and California to reach the championship game, making the sisters the first Native Americans from a reservation to play in the NCAA championship game.

Louisville opens this year’s NCAA tourney against Idaho.

There are others on Cahwee’s list still playing, most notably Bronson Koenig of the Ho-Chunk Nation, a 6-3 freshman point guard at the University of Wisconsin. The Badgers are a No. 2 seed in the NCAA men’s tournament.

One Native star missing out on the rest of March is Marshall Henderson of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, who spent two tumultuous years at the University of Mississippi.

The Running Rebels made waves in last year’s NCAA Tournament, but did not qualify for it, or the NIT, in this, Henderson’s senior season.

Check out all of Cahwee’s Native stars at ndnsports.com.

- Vince Devlin

When Michelle LaMirande and her three children returned to the Pit River Tribe’s reservation in Northern California, her son Tyler had grown his hair long in honor of his father, who had died from kidney disease when they lived in the Bay Area.

Four Pit River tribal members - from left, Tyler LaMirande, Mikaela Gali-LaMirande, Talissa Gali and Alexis Elmore - are among those saying they have been targeted for bullying in Burney, Calif., public schools because they are Native American (Photo by Marc Dadigan/Indian Country Today).

Four Pit River tribal members – from left, Tyler LaMirande, Mikaela Gali-LaMirande, Talissa Gali and Alexis Elmore – are among those saying they have been targeted for bullying in Burney, Calif., public schools because they are Native American (Photo by Marc Dadigan/Indian Country Today).

She says Tyler has endured abuse in the Burney, Calif., school system, and Indian Country Today reports he has not been alone.

In a story by Marc Dadigan, ICTMN says many parents believe the abuse is escalating, and complain that the schools aren’t doing anything to stop it.

Notes reading “Watch Your Redskinned Back” and “White Pride Bitch” were left March 4 in the lockers of two Pit River Tribe students at a Northern California high school where parents have alleged for months there is systemic, racially charged abuse of their children.

The notes were reported by parents to the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, and deputies are investigating whether it constitutes a hate crime. Believing that the atmosphere at Burney Junior-Senior High School has become too toxic and dangerous, two Pit River parents have already transferred their children to the neighboring schools 16 miles away in Fall River Mills.

LaMirande and her son told Dadigan other students would pull Tyler down by his hair in gym class and call him a “long-haired freak” and homosexual slurs.

When Tyler was suspended in October after fighting a student who ridiculed his hair, the school principal allegedly told LaMirande she should cut his son’s hair to end the bullying.

ICTMN reports that parents’ complaints are “remarkably similar” to ones in recent legal complaints filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Yurok Tribe and Wiyot Tribe against two Humboldt County school districts.

- Vince Devlin

15
Mar

Code Talkers endorsement of Redskins name riles many

   Posted by: admin   in racism

The endorsement of the Washington Redskins’ nickname by seven World War II Navajo Code Talkers has set off a firestorm on the Navajo Reservation and beyond.

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder (Photo from ICTMN).

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder (Photo from ICTMN).

Indian Country Today Media Network reports outrage by descendants of code talkers and others, much of it directed at Navajo Code Talkers Association president Peter MacDonald, and much at Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

Reports of the NCTA endorsement showed up on Facebook late in the afternoon of February 28, and the news spread quickly. Here are a few typical posts.

“People are crying. I almost threw up when I read it.”

“Sad day… so much for honor.”

“Rather give more attention to the medicine man association… code talkers have become nationalist puppets and fall for anything.”

Several Navajo descendants and other Navajo citizens expressed suspicion about MacDonald and his motives. Their common theme was, “He divided the Nation.” A former Navajo Nation president, MacDonald was removed from office by the Navajo Tribal Council in 1989 under suspicion of accepting kickbacks from contractors and corporations.

The ICTMN story, by Gale Courey Toensing, said MacDonald sees nothing racist about the Redskins name, and thinks there are far more pressing problems in Indian Country.

“You press people! I don’t know what’s wrong with you! We have so many issues with Native American people – states, the federal government stealing our water, taking our land. There’s poverty and high unemployment on Indian reservations. Why don’t you go over there and report those things? Is the change of [the] name going to change poverty on Navajo? Will that create thousands of jobs?

“There’s the cancer rate, as well as diabetes, alcoholism, the suicide rate – all much higher than outside society. It’s a third-world nation in the back door of the United States. Report that!”

Toensing’s story is also highly critical of Snyder’s attempts to woo support in Indian Country for the NFL team’s nickname.

- Vince Devlin

Pablo, Mont., is title town.

National champions both, the women's and men's basketball teams from Salish Kootenai College celebrate after their title games (Photo courtesy of SKC/Indian Country Today Media Network).

National champions both, the women’s and men’s basketball teams from Salish Kootenai College celebrate after their title games (Photo courtesy of SKC/Indian Country Today Media Network).

As Indian Country Today Media Network reports, the Salish Kootenai College Bison swept the men’s and women’s American Indian Higher Education Consortium Tribal College National Basketball championships.

“It’s been really exciting and really important to give these tribal kids the opportunity to play organized college basketball,” (men’s coach Zack Camel) said. “Win or lose I’m always excited for them. They had a lot of fun together and we’re there for each other. It makes it easy to coach, and in the end, it was a success.”

(Women’s player Katie) McDonald gives credit to coaches Juan and Silas Perez. “If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have been the powerhouse we were. We ended the season with 26 straight wins and that wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t keep pushing us on and off the court.”

Twelve men’s teams and 10 women’s teams participated in the tournament, held on the Salish Kootenai College campus. ICTMN says it was SKC’s eighth national championship in 15 years under Camel.

What it didn’t report were the scores. Northwest Indian College of Bellingham, Wash., advanced to both title games along with the Bison.

The SKC women beat NWIC 72-63. The SKC men won a 105-104 barnburner.

- Vince Devlin

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes say they’re simply trying to stop violations to the McCarran Amendment, and have federal courts declare ownership of water delivered by the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project.

The attorney for an irrigation district on the Flathead Indian Reservation says the tribes are posing threats to individual property rights “as well as to the State of Montana’s sovereign ownership of all the waters in the state.”

A Missoulian report details a 45-page lawsuit CSKT attorneys filed late last month in U.S. District Court in Missoula that seeks to stop two Montana courts from proceeding with water rights cases.

The suit says the tribes and the United States “are necessary and indispensable parties to that determination and to move forward in their absence is a profound waste of judicial resources.”

Fourteen defendants are named, ranging from Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to seven reservation residents who have water rights cases pending in the two state courts.

The Montana Water Court and Twentieth Judicial District of Montana are also named as defendants, as is the Bureau of Indian Affairs and three irrigation districts on the reservation.

Jon Metropoulos, attorney for the Flathead Irrigation District, has asked Montana Attorney General Tim Fox to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of irrigators and other Montanans.

The tribes say in the lawsuit they “seek this declaration of ownership to frame the federal law under which water for irrigation on the (reservation) will be adjudicated and quantified in a proper general inter sese water rights adjudication ….”

Representatives from CSKT, the state and the federal government spent a decade negotiating a proposed reserved water rights compact that has vocal supporters and opponents, and was not approved by the 2013 Montana Legislature.

- Vince Devlin

New evidence suggesting the area of the Bering Strait, called Beringia, supported trees during the last glacial maximum have led some scientists to conclude that 17-year-old theories that the first American Indians made a “10,000-year pit stop” there en route from Asia to the Americas are true.

But, as Alex Ewan of the Purepecha Nation writes at Indian Country Today Media Network, the new discoveries tend to cloud, rather than support, the theories.

As a review in Past Horizons, an archeology magazine, noted, “the weakest link to the Out of Beringia theory is the lack of archaeological evidence.” There is absolutely no sign that humans lived in this region during this time. In addition, although the study showed that the area had “surprisingly mild temperatures” during the summer (for an ice age), it was still cooler than the area is now, which is not particularly hospitable.

Indeed, if anything, the study findings set the Beringian Standstill theory back. According to a review in Scientific American, “This kind of vegetation would not have supported the large, grazing animals – woolly mammoth, woolly rhino, Pleistocene horses, camels, and bison.” It had previously been presumed that Beringia was covered in grass, and that the large animals were what the Paloeindians had lived on, but the shrub tundra would have only supported small mammals, “perhaps some bighorn sheep,” and possibly elk.

Sediment cores from the region dating between 15,000 and 30,000 years ago show evidence of trees, important because people would have needed fuel for campfires in the cold climate.

One author of the study, John Hoffecker of the University of Colorado, calls it “solid evidence for humans in Beringia before the last glacial maximum, as geneticists first predicted in 1997.”

But Ewen, at ICTMN, calls it ” ‘science by press release,’ where the conclusions are hyped well beyond what the actual findings show.”

Since the early 1990s … the genetic evidence indicates that Indians, as a distinct peoples, are at least 30,000 years old, and likely much older. Linguistic evidence has also pointed to Indians being at least 35,000 years old, and possibly 50,000 years old. The Beringian Standstill theory thus allows the archeologists and the geneticists to have their cake and eat it too, as it gives the time for the Paloeindians to develop unique genetic and linguistic characteristics, while at the same time, it keeps them out of the Americas.

But like the Bering Strait theory, the Beringian Standstill theory requires some unusual circumstances to make it work, the most important of which is that the Paleoindians who lived in Beringia were completely isolated from any other humans for more than 10,000 years and maybe up to 20,000 years, to prevent genetic and linguistic mixing.

Ewen says it may lead to other views about Indian origins in the Americas being taken more seriously.

- Vince Devlin

Almost 40 years after starting the process to acquire Kerr Dam, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have almost reached the finish line.

Brian Lipscomb, the CEO of Energy Keepers, announced this week that that the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes would acquire Kerr Dam for $18.3 million - more than the $14.7 million the tribes wanted to pay, but more than $30 million less than what PPL Montana had sought (Photo by Tom Bauer/Missoulian).

Brian Lipscomb, the CEO of Energy Keepers, announced this week that that the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes would acquire Kerr Dam for $18.3 million – more than the $14.7 million the tribes wanted to pay, but more than $30 million less than what PPL Montana had sought (Photo by Tom Bauer/Missoulian).

And they’ll get there for a price that is tens of millions of dollars closer to what the tribes said it was worth than what PPL Montana wanted for it, the Missoulian reports.

The Flathead Indian Reservation tribes will become the first in the nation to own a major hydroelectric facility when they turn over $18.3 million. That’s the price set by the American Arbitration Association after weighing arguments from CSKT, which maintained the price should be $14.7 million, and PPL Montana, which said it should be nearly $50 million.

Extensive hearings on the price were held in January.

“This is a historic day for the Confederated Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai Tribes,” CSKT Chairman Ron Trahan said. “We’ve been working toward this for 40 years. It brings tears to my eyes, because it’s something we never quit on.”

The earliest the transfer of ownership can take place is Sept. 5, 2015.

New owners will mean a new name for the dam according to Brian Lipscomb, CEO of Energy Keepers, a federally chartered corporation wholly owned by the tribes. Completed in 1938, the dam was named after Frank Kerr, president of Montana Power Company at the time.

“We’ve been titled as visionary people, and it plays out,” council member Lloyd Irvine said at a press conference announcing the price. Acquisition of the dam “is one of the tools that ensures the future of our people.”

But another council member, Terry Pitts, urged caution.

“We should not be blinded by the bling,” Pitts said. “There will be a lot of issues that come with this. We need to be fully prepared.”

- Vince Devlin

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3
Mar

Priests to be named in sexual-abuse case

   Posted by: admin   in Uncategorized

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena will post names of priests accused of sexual abuse as part of an agreement to settle a lawsuit filed against it and the Ursuline Sisters of the Western Province.

Bishop George L. Thomas will "give the benefit of the doubt to the accuser" when it comes to naming names of priests accused of sex abuse from the 1930s through the 1970s. The settlement of a lawsuit filed against the Catholic church of western Montana calls for it (Photo by Eliza Wiley/Helena Independent Record).

Bishop George L. Thomas will “give the benefit of the doubt to the accuser” when it comes to naming names of priests accused of sex abuse from the 1930s through the 1970s. The settlement of a lawsuit filed against the Catholic church of western Montana calls for it (Photo by Eliza Wiley/Helena Independent Record).

The Diocese of Helena filed for bankruptcy protection as part of the proposed settlement, according to a story by Mike Dennison of Montana’s Lee State Bureau, and will pay $15 million to the victims.

The Ursuline Sisters ran a school in St. Ignatius on the Flathead Indian Reservation that enrolled many Native American children.

George Thomas, bishop of the Diocese of Helena since 2004, said in a recent interview that a church review board will look at abuse claims, but that he doesn’t expect the church to quibble over the naming of abusers.

“I give the benefit of the doubt to the accuser,” he said. “The one thing I want to punctuate is that I have been committed from the beginning to transparency. There are no names that I will hold in secret.

“If an accusation is made against (someone) and the facts line up, I think the public has a right to know.”

There were 362 victims who filed the 2011 lawsuit in state District Court in Helena.

Seattle attorney Tim Kosnoff, who represents 271 of them, told Dennison that more than 50 Catholic priests will be named as sexual abusers of children.

Most, if not all, are dead. The abuse occurred from the 1930s through the 1970s.

- Vince Devlin